The Case of the Capilano Apricots - Taproot Edmonton

The Case of the Capilano Apricots

Let's Find Out probes the provenance of three mysterious trees

By
September 4, 2019


Brooklin Schneider semi-recently moved to Edmonton, and was surprised by how many fruits and vegetables can grow in our northern climate. She was intrigued when she heard about three apricot trees growing in an alley between a regular old residential street and 75 Street – a busy road that is basically a freeway. She wondered who planted these trees, affectionately known as the Capilano apricots.

Dustin Bajer and Brooklin Schneider measure the distance between the two apricot trees that are closest to each other.

Earlier this year, Taproot Edmonton helped present a live recording of local history podcast Let's Find Out. The idea was to generate a whole season of questions about how humans and nature have shaped each other in our city. Brooklin submitted this question, and it opened up a whole world of stories about Edmonton's early market gardens, an amateur geneticist, and some surprising connections to global events throughout the Second World War.

Local plant expert Dustin Bajer filled us in on the basics of what's known about these three apricot trees. All three are on the boulevard on the west side of 75th Street, between 86th and 87th avenues.

Dustin had a hunch the trees may have been planted by Robert Simonet — a plant breeder who ran a market garden near by until 1958, and was known for experimenting with petunias, corn, and lilies. Brendan Casement, a semi-retired horticulturalist who used to work for the Alberta government's Crop Diversification Centre horticultural station in Brooks, filled in a lot of the blanks for us.

Listen to the episode at LetsFindOutPodcast.com:

Taproot Edmonton is proud to be supporting the 2019 season of Let's Find Out.

Photos courtesy of Chris Chang-Yen Phillips.